Mir Taqi Mir

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Mir Taqi Mir
Mir Taqi Mir in 1786
Mir Taqi Mir in 1786
BornFebruary 1723
Agra, Mughal India (presently Uttar Pradesh, India)
Died20 September 1810 (aged 87)
Lucknow, Oudh State, Mughal India (presently Uttar Pradesh, India)
Pen nameMir
PeriodMughal India
GenreGhazal, Mathnavi
SubjectLove, metaphysics
Notable worksFaiz-e-Mir

Mir Muhammad Taqi (February 1723 – 20 September 1810), known as Mir Taqi Mir (also spelled Meer Taqi Meer), was an Urdu poet of the 18th century Mughal India and one of the pioneers who gave shape to the Urdu language itself. He was one of the principal poets of the Delhi School of the Urdu ghazal and is often remembered as one of the best poets of the Urdu language. His pen name (takhallus) was Mir. He spent the latter part of his life in the court of Asaf-ud-Daulah in Lucknow.[1]


The main source of information on Mir's life is his autobiography Zikr-e-Mir, which covers the period from his childhood to the beginning of his sojourn in Lucknow.[2] However, it is said to conceal more than it reveals,[3] with material that is undated or presented in no chronological sequence. Therefore, many of the 'true details' of Mir's life remain a matter of speculation.

Early life and background[edit]

Mir was born in Agra, India (then called Akbarabad and ruled by the Mughals) in August or February 1723.[1] His grandfather had migrated from Hejaz to Hyderabad, then to Akbarabad or Agra. His philosophy of life was formed primarily by his father, Mir Abdullah, a religious man with a large following, whose emphasis on the importance of love and the value of compassion remained with Mir throughout his life and imbued his poetry. Mir's father died while the poet was in his teens, and left him some debt.[4] Mir left Agra for Delhi a few years after his father's death, to finish his education and also to find patrons who offered him financial support (Mir's many patrons and his relationship with them have been described by his translator C. M. Naim).[5][6]

Some scholars consider two of Mir's masnavis (long narrative poems rhymed in couplets), Mu'amlat-e-ishq (The Stages of Love) and Khwab o Khyal-e Mir ("Mir's Vision"), written in the first person, as inspired by Mir's own early love affairs,[7] but it is by no means clear how autobiographical these accounts of a poet's passionate love affair and descent into madness are. Especially, as Frances W. Pritchett points out, the austere portrait of Mir from these masnavis must be juxtaposed against the picture drawn by Andalib Shadani, whose inquiry suggests a very different poet, given to unabashed eroticism in his verse.[8]

Life in Lucknow[edit]

Mir lived much of his life in Mughal Delhi. Kuchha Chelan, in Old Delhi was his address at that time. However, after Ahmad Shah Abdali's sack of Delhi each year starting 1748, he eventually moved to the court of Asaf-ud-Daulah in Lucknow, at the ruler's invitation. Distressed to witness the plundering of his beloved Delhi, he gave vent to his feelings through some of his couplets.[6]

کیا بود و باش پوچھو ہو پورب کے ساکنو
ہم کو غریب جان کے ہنس ہنس پکار کے
دلّی جو ایک شہر تھا عالم میں انتخاب
رہتے تھے منتخب ہی جہاں روزگار کے
جس کو فلک نے لوٹ کے ویران کر دیا
ہم رہنے والے ہیں اسی اجڑے دیار کے

Mir migrated to Lucknow in 1782 and stayed there for the remainder of his life. Though he was given a kind welcome by Asaf-ud-Daulah, he found that he was considered old-fashioned by the courtiers of Lucknow (Mir, in turn, was contemptuous of the new Lucknow poetry, dismissing the poet Jur'at's work as merely 'kissing and cuddling'). Mir's relationships with his patron gradually grew strained, and he eventually severed his connections with the court. In his last years Mir was very isolated. His health failed, and the untimely deaths of his daughter, son and wife caused him great distress.[9][6]


He died of a purgative overdose on 21 September 1810, and was buried in Lucknow.[10][6] The marker of his burial place is believed to have been removed in modern times when railway tracks were built over his grave.[11][12] In the 1970s, a cenotaph was built in the vicinity of his actual burial place.[13]

Literary life[edit]

His complete works, Kulliaat, consist of six Diwans containing 13,585 couplets, comprising a variety of poetic forms: ghazal, masnavi, qasida, rubai, mustezaad, satire, etc.[10] Mir's literary reputation is anchored on the ghazals in his Kulliyat-e-Mir, much of them on themes of love. His masnavi Mu'amlat-e-Ishq (The Stages of Love) is one of the greatest known love poems in Urdu literature.[8]

Mir lived at a time when Urdu language and poetry was at a formative stage – and Mir's instinctive aesthetic sense helped him strike a balance between the indigenous expression and new enrichment coming in from Persian imagery and idiom, to constitute the new elite language known as Rekhta or Hindui. Basing his language on his native Hindustani, he leavened it with a sprinkling of Persian diction and phraseology, and created a poetic language at once simple, natural and elegant, which was to guide generations of future poets.[8]

The death of his family members,[10] together with earlier setbacks (including the traumatic stages in Delhi), lend a strong pathos to much of Mir's writing – and indeed Mir is noted for his poetry of pathos and melancholy.[8]

Mir and Mirza Ghalib[edit]

Mir's famous contemporary, also an Urdu poet of no inconsiderable repute, was Mirza Rafi Sauda. Mir Taqi Mir was often compared with the later day Urdu poet, Mirza Ghalib. Lovers of Urdu poetry often debate Mir's supremacy over Ghalib or vice versa. It may be noted that Ghalib himself acknowledged, through some of his couplets, that Mir was indeed a genius who deserved respect. Here are two couplets by Mirza Ghalib on this matter.[1]

Reekhta ke tum hī ustād nahīṅ ho ğhālib
Kehte haiṅ agle zamāne meṅ koī mīr bhī thā

You are not the only master of Rekhta, Ghalib
They say there used to be a Mir in the past

Mirza Ghalib

Ghalib apna yeh aqeeda hai baqaul-e-Nasikh
Aap bey behrah hai jo muataqid-e-Mir nahi

Ghalib! It's my belief in the words of Nasikh[14]
He that vows not on Mir, is himself unlearned!

Mirza Ghalib

Ghalib and Zauq were contemporary rivals but both of them believed the superiority of Mir and also acknowledged Mir's superiority in their poetry.[1]

Famous couplets[edit]

Some of his notable couplets are:

Hasti apni habab ki si hai
Yeh numaish ik saraab ki si hai

My life is like a bubble
This world is like a mirage

Dikhaai diye yun ki bekhud kiya
Hamein aap se bhi juda kar chale

She appeared in such a way that I lost myself And went by taking away my 'self' with her
Just her glimpse rendered me numb away she went leaving me separated from me

At a higher spiritual level, the subject of Mir's poem is not a woman but the God. Mir speaks of man's interaction with the Divine. He reflects upon the impact on man when God reveals Himself to the man. So the same sher can be interpreted in this way as well:

Dikhaai diye yun ke bekhud kiya
Hamen aap se bhi juda kar chale

When I saw You (God) I lost all sense of self
I forgot my own identity

Other shers:

Gor kis diljale ki hai ye falak?
Shola ek subah yahaan se uthta hai

What heart-sick sufferer's grave is the sky?
an Ember rises hence at dawn

Ashk aankhon mein kab nahin aata?
Lahu aata hai jab nahin aata

From my eye, when doesn't a tear fall?
Blood falls when it doesn't fall

Bekhudi le gai kahaan humko,
Der se intezaar hai apna

Where has selflessness taken me
I've been waiting for myself for long

Raah-e-door-e-ishq mein rotaa hai kyaa[16]
Aage aage dekhiye hotaa hai kyaa

In the long road of Love, why do you wail
Just wait and watch how things unveil

Deedani hai shikastagi dil ki
Kya imaarat ghamon ne dhaai hai

Worth-watching is my heart's crumbling
What a citadel have sorrows razed

Baad marne ke meri qabr pe aaya wo 'Mir'
Yaad aai mere Isa ko dawa mere baad

O Mir, he came to my grave after I'd died
My messiah thought of a medicine after I'd died

Mir ke deen-o-mazhab ka poonchte kya ho un nay to
kashka khaincha dair mein baitha kab ka tark Islam kiya

What can I tell you about Mir's faith or belief?
A tilak on his forehead, in a temple he resides, having abandoned Islam long ago

Mir Taqi Mir in fiction[edit]

Major works[edit]

  • Nukat-us-Shura, a biographical dictionary of Urdu poets of his time, written in Persian.[6]
  • Faiz-e-Mir, a collection of five stories about Sufis & faqirs, said to have been written for the education of his son Mir Faiz Ali.[17]
  • Zikr-e-Mir, an autobiography written in Persian.[3]
  • Kulliyat-e-Farsi, a collection of poems in Persian
  • Kulliyat-e-Mir, a collection of Urdu poetry consisting of six diwans (volumes).
  • Mir Taqi Mir Ki Rubaiyat

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Sweta Kaushal (20 September 2015). "Meer Taqi Meer: 10 couplets we can use in our conversations". Hindustan Times (newspaper). Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  2. ^ Naim, C M (1999). Zikr-i-Mir, The Autobiography of the Eighteenth Century Mughal Poet: Mir Muhammad Taqi Mir (1725–1810), Translated, annotated and with an introduction by C. M. Naim. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ a b Faruqi 2001.
  4. ^ Islam & Russell 1994, p. 235.
  5. ^ Naim, C. M. (1999). "Mir and his patrons" (PDF). Annual of Urdu Studies. 14.
  6. ^ a b c d e Profile and poetry of Mir Taqi Mir on University of Chicago website Retrieved 18 July 2020
  7. ^ Islam & Russell 1994.
  8. ^ a b c d Pritchett, Frances W. (1 September 1979). "Convention in the Classical Urdu Ghazal: The Case of Mir". Columbia.edu website. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  9. ^ Matthews, D. J.; C. Shackle (1972). An anthology of classical Urdu love lyrics. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-713570-9. Mir.
  10. ^ a b c Srivastava, Rajiv (19 September 2010). "Legendary Urdu poet Mir Taqi Mir passed away". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  11. ^ Islam & Russell 1994, p. 269.
  12. ^ Dalrymple, William (1998). The Age of Kali. Lonely Planet. p. 44. ISBN 1-86450-172-3.
  13. ^ Sharda, Shailvee (3 May 2015). "Meer to get his due respect back as government proposes restoration of his mazar". The Times of India. Lucknow. Archived from the original on 1 October 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  14. ^ Shaikh Imam Bakhsh Nasikh of Lucknow, a disciple of Mir.
  15. ^ Poetry of Mir Taqi Mir on Rekhta.org website Retrieved 18 July 2020
  16. ^ "0071_01".
  17. ^ Foreword by Dr. Masihuzzaman in Kulliyat-e-Mir Vol-2, Published by Ramnarianlal Prahladdas, Allahabad, India.
  • Lall, Inder jit; Mir A Master Poet; Thought, 7 November 1964
  • Lall, Inder jit; Mir The ghazal king; Indian & Foreign Review, September 1984
  • Lall, Inder jit; Mir—Master of Urdu Ghazal; Patriot, 25 September 1988
  • Lall, Inder jit; 'A Mir' of ghazals; Financial Express, 3 November

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]